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Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato continue The Flash’s opening arc with this solid, yet average issue. Story wise, not much happens. Instead, M&B focused on two major elements that directly service Flash’s character. The first deals with his relationship with Manuel, Barry’s college friend who is somehow mixed up with Mob Rule (all the members look just like him).
Manuel is a new addition to Flash lore, so the writers wisely dedicated some time to explore his past, what kind of person he is, and how is almost a mirror for Barry. In fact, this last element is something I just recently caught. Barry is depicted as being overly responsible and methodical while Manuel is shown to leap before he looks. Both end up in different types of law enforcement (Barry with local PD; Manuel seemingly with the military). And both have the ability to “be everywhere” (though through opposing means). I am curious to see where this reflection element goes (if anywhere).
The other element that M&B explore is Barry’s new ability to think faster. This is an amazing use of the Flash’s abilities that I cannot believe hasn’t been exploited before (as far as I know). He’s able to see all potential outcomes of soon-to-happen events, thereby allowing him to put a plan in motion and act before anything happens. This is just sort of dropped in the book, so I expect that there will be some pay-off with this later on.
Manapul’s art is, once again, the selling point. I particularly love how he depicts Barry’s ability to think faster. The use of multiple boxes showing various possibilities spinning around Barry’s head is visually wonderful. Additionally, the use of muted colors for the “present” while Barry thinks help as it shows him drowning everything else out. Actually, as I type that last sentence, I can see how this new power can have a negative side effect as well.
Speaking of muted colors, I appreciated the use of colors during the flashback sequences. The use of a warmer color for when Barry and Manuel are about to crash a party versus the pale green when Manuel (minus a hand) is calling Barry for help really enhances the readers feelings for this character. We just met him, yet we already share Barry’s concern.
This was a bit of a quieter issue, but that was a necessary move. We needed to know more about Manuel for the readers to actually care about what is going on and why we want Barry to help his friend. Though it was light on action, next issue promises more with that whole jetliner crashing into the bridge cliffhanger.
Next week (as I play catch up): The Flash #3!